Click here for nice stories main menu

main menu   |   standard categories   |   authors   |   new stories   |   search   |   links   |   settings   |   author tools

The Money Carpet (standard:fantasy, 4442 words)
Author: abhijit dasguptaAdded: Feb 19 2006Views/Reads: 3234/2475Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
It;s an India specific story about the angst of a young newspaper reporter who is a romantic at heart and plays fantasy games of music with a pavement dweller.


By Abhijit Dasgupta 

Anirban always thought he was like a flower. Small, pink, slightly
soiled, the sort you see lying unheeded beside some trees in a park or 
on desolate roads, trampled upon by some indifferent traveller. Or, as 
later Anirban reasoned, one of those which would have fallen off from a 
handmade garland without anybody noticing the difference. 

When he was a child, barely a boy of six or seven perhaps, Anirban, tiny
and pink himself, used to sit beside his mother who cooked the 
two-member family meal in an old, worn-out stove; from time to time, 
even as he listened wide-eyed to the stories that Ma told him, he 
picked from the broken, chipped  aluminium bowl which he always kept 
beside him and where his mother kept serving him whatever she was 
cooking. It could be a spoonful of steaming, frugal vegetable soup or 
may be, just a few oily, potato chips. Sometimes, on better days, 
chingri bhaja, the almost friendly-sounding Bengali equivalent of 
small, little-as-grains fried prawns. 

Anirban relished these small offerings immensely. They added spice to
the tales that he heard on those days he didn't go to school. Which was 
every Thursday and Sunday. Anirban, friendless even at that age, looked 
forward to those hot forenoons in Kolkata, the easternmost, 
impoverished city of India which had attained cult status after 
Dominique Lapierre's City of Joy or, for better reasons, for its 
association with Mother Teresa. 

He had never seen his father. During one of those oily, potato-chipped
humid story sessions, made more interesting for the young boy by the 
wet sweat falling off his pink, bare back and forcing his glasses down 
every time he bent to pick a morsel, Ma, as he simply, like all 
children his age and at all times in Kolkata where he lived, called the 
woman who gave him birth, had told him his father's story. Anirban 
found no particular interest in the man's life who had sired him.Even 
at that tender age, failures forced him to look the other way. His 
father had been a clerk with the Food Corporation of India, came over 
as a refugee from East Pakistan much before the riots, married Ma when 
he shouldn't have, and died of a strange, undiagonised illness shortly 
after his son was born. 

His father was 43 years when Ma was widowed without a penny to fall back
on. She was 32. 

But Anirban was fascinated by one little story which Ma told him about
the man whom he never got to call Baba. When Anirban was born at the 
Campbell Hospital, now named after the famous Dr Nilratan Sarkar, and 
even as the tiny, pink baby lay sleeping in the dormitory cot beside 
his mother, his father, who had spent the better part of the day 
borrowing money from relatives and friends to buy medicines for his 
frail, anaemic  wife, had arrived for a first look at his son. 

Ma always told this story without changing a word; it was as if she had,
like a born actress playing out her part, memorised the lines. Even the 
pauses, the blank, faraway looks at suitable intervals, the moist eyes, 
one hand bent with indifference towards the cooking pot, another 
stretched over her knee, always touching some part of his body when she 
spoke; it was, as if, she was in some sort of a communion. Sometimes, 
Anirban tried his own little tests; he would shift his leg or his hand 
where Ma would be touching him. In an instant, she would reach out to 
another part of her son. Anirban was convinced that this was not 

His father, a shy  man,  had entered the Campbell dormitory. Ma would
tell Anirban later that he wouldn't even look at his son. Natural 
shyness, may be. Nobody else in the packed dorm gave them any 
attention. There were too many babies lying around, anyway. And far too 
many relatives and new parents. They were alone. The frail woman with a 
smile for her husband and pride in her eyes; the man, who had just 
become a father but had no means to celebrate, had carried just a 
packet with him. A small, tiny, brown wrapper sort of thing, usually 
reserved for flowers and sweets with little dreams inside them, like 
those which the temple priest forces on you before you enter the 
sanctum sanctora. Tied with thin, red strings that Ma always used when 

Click here to read the rest of this story (380 more lines)

Authors appreciate feedback!
Please write to the authors to tell them what you liked or didn't like about the story!
abhijit dasgupta has 2 active stories on this site.
Profile for abhijit dasgupta, incl. all stories

stories in "fantasy"   |   all stories by "abhijit dasgupta"  

Nice Stories @, support email: nice at nicestories dot com
Powered by StoryEngine v1.00 © 2000-2020 - Artware Internet Consultancy